A mature agave can produce as much as 20 gallons of nectar per week. This agave, in particular, is an agave americana or century plant. The sap that leaks out from the leaves at night will be collected and fermented to make moonshine.
Agaves have long and sharp leaves that grow in rosettes form at their base. The flowering head of agave can be as much as 12 feet tall when it blooms once every 20-25 years or so (depending on the agave species).
Agave americana is a succulent plant that requires little water or attention to grow and will tolerate temperatures as low as -20º F (-30 º C). They also require very well-draining soil, which can be achieved by adding sand into clay soils before planting the agave.
Agave americana (American aloe) is an important medicinal plant native to Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and the Caribbean.
Agave americana description
Agaves are succulents and they store water in their leaves. The agave americana can have over a third of its weight consist of water that is found at the bottom of each leaf base. This helps agaves survive during periods of drought or famine, which is why it’s also called century plant.
Agave nectar is the sweet syrup obtained from agaves, particularly agave americana or century plants. The agave nectar can be used as a substitute for sugar and honey in cooking, baking, medicines, and beverages such as tequila or margaritas. Agave products are gluten-free because they contain a low amount of protein.
Agave aguamiel is the sap that seeps out at night from the agave leaves, and it is collected to make moonshine. The agaves have long sharp leaves growing in rosettes form at their base with a flowering head as much as 12 feet tall when they bloom once every 20-25 years or so (depending on the agave species).
It’s easy to see why agaves are called century plants because a mature agave can produce as much as 20 gallons of nectar per week. Agaves have been cultivated in Mexico for more than 5000 years and they were used by the Aztecs for food, drink, and medicine.
The agave americana is also known as the century plant because it can take up to 100 years for agave in its natural habitat to bloom once.
How to propagate agave americana
Propagating agave americana is a bit of an undertaking, but if you’re interested in starting your own agave garden at home or for the office, it’s worth taking on. The process will take up to three months and requires some time and patience from you, so be prepared!
The propagation method
- First thing’s first: you’ll need agave americana seeds. They can be difficult to find in stores, so I recommend ordering them online or through a local nursery. The package should say “agaves” and not “century plant.”
- To start the process of agave propagation, take your agave seed from its paper envelope – don’t wet it, as it will activate the agave’s natural defenses. Then, plant your agave seed in a pot of moist sand or soil that is at least twice the size of the agave and leave it alone for about two weeks to germinate.
- After those two weeks have passed, you’ll need to move your agave plant into a pot with sand and soil. Make sure the agave is in a container that has good drainage, as agaves don’t like to be overwatered.
- Water your agave plant about once every two weeks until it’s large enough for you to transplant into your garden or office windowsill. You’ll want a bright window without direct sunlight, as agaves can get sunburned!
- Once your agave plant is about six inches tall, you’ll need to transplant it into a pot with soil that has been amended. You should continue watering and fertilizing the agave every two weeks until springtime – this time period will depend on where you live.
- In the springtime, agave plants should be in a container that has drainage. Then you can plant it outside or into the pot where you want to grow your agave for the rest of its life!
How to care for Agave Americana
Agave americana is a tropical plant that prefers bright light. It can grow in lower levels of light but will produce less food and fewer flowers for pollinators to enjoy. This species does not require any specific watering needs, so you just need to water when the soil starts to dry out or if it remains wet long after rain. Keep in mind that the plant will need to be able to drain water, so make sure it is in a pot with either holes or drainage.
This species is not picky about what potting mix it grows in, so you can use any type. It prefers a mixture that contains components such as peat moss or vermiculite with organic material like compost and leaf litter.
Oftentimes, the plant will grow roots out of its stem at an unexpected time which makes transplanting easy.
Agave accommodates ample watering. It is a succulent plant and will not be harmed by being overwatered a little. In fact, this can lead to faster growth in the warmer months as well as more fullness from the leaves when they have enough water available for them. You should still examine your agave regularly while it’s growing so that you can see if it’s been overwatered or underwatered.
Watering your agave should be done carefully in order to prevent root rot, which is caused by too much water being left on the roots of the plant for an extended period of time. You’ll need a watering can that will release enough water so that you’re not over-saturating the soil with water.
Agave requires a minimum of one inch of rain per week, but it can tolerate more than that without any problems and will still grow well as long as you are able to provide light for your plant during daytime hours.
Your agave will need fertilizer every six months to a year, depending on your soil type and the temperatures. You should use plant food or compost when you fertilize them because it is not necessary for this succulent plant to have any extra water added with the fertilizer application.
Agave will survive in a wide range of temperatures, but it prefers to be kept between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Your agave can grow outside during the summer and move inside for the winter months or you may choose to keep your plant indoors year-round if you prefer that option as well. It’s important that they get sunlight because this is how they will continue to grow.
Agave needs a low amount of sunlight in order to survive and thrive, so it’s important that you choose an area for your agave plant where it can receive the necessary light each day before moving it inside or outside depending on the season. Remember, too much sun could cause damage to your plant.
Agave americana thrives in arid climates with low humidity. When the plant is placed in humid conditions, it may form brown patches on its leaves and wither away. If you plan to grow this succulent inside your home or greenhouse, make sure that there are proper ventilation systems installed to ensure minimal levels of humidity.
Agave americana requires repotting every two to three years. When it is time to re-pot, make sure that the soil you use for this succulent has good drainage and will hold enough water throughout the year so that your plant does not dry out too quickly.
Agave americana may need to be pruned back in order to maintain its shape or size. When you are trimming this succulent, make sure that any leaves on the outer edges of your plant will remain healthy and intact.
Agave americana can grow up to one foot per year.
Agave americana is hardy to zones 9 to 11.
Agave americana is not toxic to humans or other mammals.
Pests and diseases
Agave americana is susceptible to mealybugs, aphids, and scale.